By Amanda Robbins
Let’s just say I had a fall quarter that required a break. I wasn’t just tired of school or work or (God forbid!) the New U, I was tired of everything. I was tired of drinking at parties and tired of Netflix and tired of walking to school. I was tired of cooking, eating, thinking, coughing. I was tired of people I loved and I was at my wit’s end with people I didn’t like. The amount of times I had to concentrate my miniscule levels of energy on not punching people was truly shameful.
And while I had the chance to hibernate all winter break (and hibernate I did, with gusto!), even my winter break left me needing another break. I found out Christmas afternoon that one of my oldest friends had passed away early that morning. All I could think of was how I hadn’t called her and hadn’t written the letter I promised her I would. I came back to Irvine the day of her funeral, an event I couldn’t even stomach going to.
I was starting winter quarter just as bad as I had ended fall, maybe even worse.
But when I was back in my own apartment in my own city, I felt a shift. On New Year’s Day, I actually made a couple resolutions. The ones I wrote down were practical: to pay my bills on time, to be better about answering emails. But the one I didn’t write down was the most important.
Borrowing from Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” the only resolution that mattered to me was: “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
A week later, I let my worry guide me: I yelled at a friend until he opened up. The next day, I worked passionately and tirelessly. The day after that, I said yes to an adventure.
Initially, it wasn’t supposed to be an adventure. While lying around my living room floor, my roommate Leah, Ashley (a friend of ours) and I decided we wanted ice cream. We piled in the car, went to Spectrum and talked by one of the many fountains as we poked at our Coldstones. Walking back to the parking structure, I found the night lacking.
“Let’s go on an adventure,” Leah said, bouncing as she walked.
I thought of something I’d written in a journal just a few days before: “No one wants to drive just to drive, no one wants to go to beautiful places just to go to beautiful places.”
We drove until we found a park somewhere in Newport Beach. In the dark, we climbed on a replica ship and slid down slides. I stood at the prow and watched as Leah and Ashley played on the swings. Turning around, I saw a sign that read, “Adventure Ship!” As our energy dissipated into the dark night, I swung down from the platform proclaiming, “The Adventure Ship does not stop here!”
It became the theme of the night.
As we drove to our next destination, our conversation turned to dreams. What we wanted out of this year, this quarter, our lives, our futures … and the moment we were in.
“Close your eyes,” Leah said to Ashley and me. When we asked her why, she just said, “It’s more magical that way.”
She drove and we continued to talk: about tattoos we wanted, about the tattoo I have … And Leah was right, it was more magical. She drove and we didn’t care where, but I could feel the road slipping beneath us and I could sense the coastal air outside the window.
When I opened my eyes, we were on a vacant Balboa Island street. We got out of the car and walked in the middle of the road. There were no lights in the windows, but the streetlamps illuminated the light mist and the water glimmered ahead of us. We found an open dock and sat there, staring up at the sky and watching the gentle swaying of boats.
We then walked to a friend’s place and stole her away. We left the island and found ourselves at Irvine Terrace Park. As I swung, I imagined I was kicking the moon and that if I jumped off, I’d land in the stars. We played with the sand digger things and acted like we were saving cities. We found a statue that had a small pine cone and leaves left like a tribute on its base. I wrapped an arm around it and balanced on the foundation, staring out over the harbor until the sprinklers burst to life and I sprinted away yelling. It was a moment of youth, of being like a child without trying, of feeling like pioneers in a discovered world.
In the car on the way back home, we didn’t say much. My shoes were wet, I had a blister forming on my palm and a huge smile on my face as I stared out the window. In just a couple hours on a Monday night, I felt as though all the harm of the quarter before had been undone.
Now, when an adventure arises, I say yes. Every time. The power of excitement and willingness is healing beyond measure. Prowling around LA on MLK day, sangria and swing sets, and going to movie theaters in sweatpants is one thing, but the real goal is to always point west. Not toward the Pacific, but toward the possibilities afforded by saying yes and being curious.